Productivity: Defining Categories of Useful Work | productivity insights through journaling

It’s amazing how helpful journaling can be to jot down some of your ideas, thoughts and even how you’re feeling.

One of the things I find gets in people’s way is knowing what to write and where to start.

And really there is no ‘best’ way to do it, you literally just write down what ever is on your mind.

I think when you put pressure on yourself to come up to a certain standard it can put you off before you even get going.

Grab a notebook, stick the date at the top and just… write!

I’ve been doing a lot more of this recently and it’s really been helping me process my thoughts.

I also find that when I start writing, new thoughts spring out of nowhere which in turn lead to more new ideas.

This hasn’t been limited to written journaling either.

Every day this year I’ve recorded a short video with thoughts and observations on my journey towards my motivational speaking goals.

And quite often I find that I have new ideas and make sense of things right there in the middle of the video.

Something to do with articulating thoughts I expect… taking them from the jumbled mess inside your head and putting them into some semblance of order and sense.

In yesterday’s video for example I was talking about how I had yet again failed to do any kind of meaningful work for this goal.

Understandable as it was a) a Sunday and b) I spent most of my day working on a DIY project (I’m putting in a new bathroom lol!).

But I found myself trying to make sense of this as I pointed the camera at my face, having said the day before that I was going to do at least an hour of productive work.

The realisation was that there are three categories of ‘useful work’ in this respect.

1) Following up with leads and developing business

2) Sharing who I am and what I do with the world (for example in these blogs and emails and social media posts)

3) Creating content (for example new talks, workshops and seminars)

I thought that was them all, but half way through the video I realised there’s actually a 4th, which I broadly categorised as ‘research and development’.

This is all the TED talks and presentation videos I watch, books that I read and listen to on my subject matter, and even the skills development of activities such as Toastmasters.

Even the daily videos I upload onto my YouTube channel.

The thing is, it’s #1, #2 and #3 that make me feel like I’ve ‘been productive’.

But #4 is just as important, and possibly more suited to the change of pace of a weekend.

That key insight might seem really obvious, but it was a revelation to me yesterday.

It took me from a feeling of guilt from getting behind on my promises, to one of control and empowerment that I am already doing a good job of balancing my personal and business goals, with my role as a father, husband and DIY-unenthusiast.

The insight was the result of 5 minutes of ‘journalling’, and has a real world value in terms of my effectiveness and happiness.

If you don’t already do any form of journalling, why not give it a go this week.

No expectations… no pressure… just 5-10 minutes of jotting down a few of your thoughts.

See what you come up with, and don’t forget to let me know if you uncover any gold!

Maths, life and the chaos theory

Yesterday I spent the morning in the local secondary school contributing to their ‘maths at work’ day.

Sharing examples of how I use maths in my every day working life to groups of year 10 students.

I always enjoy demonstrating how trigonometry is ‘essential’ in adapting the press up for clients of various abilities.

A tenuous connection perhaps, and although I’ve never actually got my protractor out in the middle of a workout, the general principle holds true 😉

The appeal of maths

I started each session off by telling them how much I have always LOVED maths.

When I asked them who else shared my not-so-secret passion, funnily enough I don’t get many hands going up!

I’ve often thought about what it is that appeals to me about maths.

I studied it to A-level and then my engineering degree was pretty much all maths for the first year.

I realised that what I enjoyed most about the subject is that it’s either right or wrong.

There’s no opinion, different points of view, or unexplained forces at play.

You follow the formula carefully enough, and the answer will always come out the right way*.

Real life

As I thought about this later it struck me how much this differs to real life.

Sometimes you can follow the ‘formula’ for success to the letter, and still get a different result to what you were expecting.

Or you can get the right result, but have somebody tell you that in their opinion, you’re still wrong.

Can you imagine how much simpler everything would be if it was as straight forward and predictable as maths?

Funny thing is, even though we know that it’s anything but predictable we still sometimes find ourselves expecting things to turn out a certain way and then being disappointed when they don’t.

Not a closed system

Life isn’t a closed system and there are many unpredictable forces at play.

You can’t control everything that goes on in the world around you, but you can influence how you respond to it.

This requires an understanding of who you are and what’s most important to you.

Something that many of my coaching clients tell me is missing when they first start working with me.

Maybe you’ve experienced it before, where you find yourself feeling a little lost or directionless?

Like you know there’s so much more to give but don’t quite know how to unlock it.

Coaching programs

This is a key part of my coaching programs, and right now I have a couple of opportunities that may be of interest to you.

The first is to join my ‘flagship’ 3 month private coaching program, which currently has 3 more spots from August.

And the second is to join me and a small group on a 2 day retreat on the Jurassic Coast for a combination of physical and mental adventures.

If you’d like more information about – what they involve, whether they’d be suitable for you, and what the investment is – just drop me a line.

Time moves on

The secondary school I was speaking at yesterday is the school that my daughter will be going to in September.

She had her primary school ‘leavers assembly’ today, and it seems like just yesterday she was there for her first day as a little 4 year old!

Time moves on.

We grow, we change, and then we’re grown up.

But we don’t ever have to stop evolving.

Let me know if you want to find out more about working with me on your clarity, confidence and mindset and we’ll see which option might work best for you.

*This holds true until you start talking about the chaos theory.

In short, this theory explains why results in a dynamic system (like the weather, geology, or even life!) depend on the STARTING POINT.

This is why somebody else’s success plan isn’t necessarily going to yield the same results for you.

What you need is a plan to get you to your next level, not the next level… whatever that is 🙂

Heart Rate Variability | How HRV can be used to help us improve performance and recovery

Heart Rate Variability | How HRV can be used to help us improve performance and recovery

Measuring HKPIs (Human Key Performance Indicators) such as Heart Rate Variability can give us a greater insight into our performance and recovery

Measuring heart rate as an indication of performance has been a ‘thing’ for decades.

Whether it’s checking your resting pulse first thing in the morning to determine how well recovered you are, or monitoring it in real time during exercise to help you decide whether to push harder or back off.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all up to speed with the fundamentals.

What is heart rate?

Heart rate is simply the number of times your heard beats each minute (bpm).

Every cell in your body requires fuel and oxygen for normal function. They get this oxygen from blood pumped around the body by the heart, and the greater the demand from your body the faster your heart has to beat to meet that demand.

Even sitting down reading this article your cells are burning energy. They need oxygen to do this so your heart ticks along at ‘resting’.

Get up and do a few start jumps though, and your muscles will be burning through energy and oxygen at a much faster rate, so your heart rate increases to meet this demand (and it stays elevated for a while after you sit back down again whilst you recovery).

One of the reasons fitter people tend to have lower resting heart rates is because their heart muscle tends to be stronger, and so pumps more blood with each beat.

Just one of the advantages of cardiovascular training.

Heart rate can tell us how hard we’re working, and how much fitter we’re getting, and how well we’re recovering, so it’s a useful thing to pay attention to.

But there’s another heart-related metric we can monitor that gives us a deeper insight into performance and recovery, and that is your Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

Heart Rate Variability

A heart rate of 60bpm is an average of 1 beat per second, but the reality is that most of the time these beats are not regular.

HRV is a measure of the variability in the interval between beats, and is closely connected with whether our nervous systems are in recovery or stressed mode.

Yesterday I caught up with human performance expert Simon Shepard from Optima-Life, who specialises in monitoring HRV and interpreting the data in a way that helps people improve their performance and resilience.


It’s a fascinating subject, and in this 35 minute interview Simon presents a number of examples to demonstrate exactly why we should be paying attention to HRV whether we’re training for an event or trying to perform optimally at work.

Simon is currently offering readers of my blog and members of my online communities the chance to work with his team to track and analyse your personal HRV data at a discounted rate.

Usually £222 for the analysis, the special offer is just £165 with delivery to the UK and Ireland.

You will be sent a device to wear for 3 days and asked to track your activities via an online diary, then send it back to Optima-Life.

After the data has been extracted and anaylsed, you’ll have a feedback session over the phone to discuss your results and learn how you can optimise your performance and recovery.

If you’d like to find out more, email me directly at george and I’ll pass on your details to Optima-Life for the discount.

As I write this blog a device on its way to me and I’m looking forward to my own analysis in a couple of weeks’ time!

Charles Tyrwhitt wellbeing talk

Charles Tyrwhitt wellbeing talk

When it comes to wellbeing, it’s not what you KNOW, it’s what you DO that makes the difference.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to give a talk at mens clothing retailer Charles Tyrwhitt on Friday as a part of their new wellbeing program.

With only a short amount of time I focused on 3 simple messages:

1) You’re the only person who can take action to improve your wellbeing

2) You don’t have to do it all: consistent progress beats short bursts of ‘perfection’

3) Look for the opportunities, not just the obstacles

It’s encouraging to see great companies like Charles Tyrwhitt implementing wellbeing programs.

‘Workplace wellbeing’ is just wellbeing, and it doesn’t stop after office hours.

If you can take positive steps to improve your physical and mental health at work, you benefit from those changes at home, with family and friends, in your community, and when it’s just you alone with your thoughts.

4 Principles of Behaviour Change

4 Principles of Behaviour Change

In my talk last Friday I shared 4 principles that I believe are fundamental in the process of making wellbeing behaviour changes stick, and today I want to share them with you 🙂

#1 Connect

It’s simple: you need to keep what you’re doing connected to what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it.

We usually have this connection in the beginning, but unless we reaffirm it every time we do the new thing we end up relying on our finite willpower reserves.

#2 Accept

Nobody can make change happen for us, and when we accept responsibility for the things we can control, we can start making progress.

See the opportunities, not the obstacles.

#3 Progress

So many of us fall victim to the ‘all or nothing’ mindset.

Going all in with a new diet, exercise program or other supposedly healthy habit usually results in overwhelm and a frustrating return to square one.

We compare ourselves with where we think we should be, or what we see other people effortlessly achieving.

This cycle of boom or bust can be overcome by applying the principle of ‘progress, not perfection’.

Look for the areas you can make small improvements in.

Start off small and build from there as your confidence grows.

Compare yourself with where you were, not where you think you should be.

#4 Explicit

Nobody can get out of bed in the morning and ‘be healthy’.

Be explicit with the instructions you give yourself about what you’re actually going to do.

Drink 8 glasses of water, walk for 30 minutes at lunch time, take a piece of fruit to work with you each day…

Go deeper with this…

If it’s a new habit you’re setting up think about how you’re going to  actually do it.

‘Drink 8 glasses of water’ is still too vague if you don’t plan how you’re going to make that work.

These 4 principles are simple

But most people don’t do them all.

My challenge for you this week is to think about how they apply to new behaviours you’re trying to develop at the moment.

boost Wellbeing Coaching

If you’d like to find out more about how I coach my boost members through the process of applying these principles, pop over to this page for more information.






Plankathon Oxford flash mob with rock choir

Plankathon Oxford flash mob with rock choir

Celebrating the end of the corporate ‘Plankathon’ challenge with a flash mob

A little over 2 weeks ago I relaunched my core training program the Plankathon.

As a part of the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire’s corporate challenge initiative, 22 local companies were signed up to the program and for the previous 14 days had been following a daily 5 minute plank-based core workout.

The High Sheriff – Richard Venables – wanted something to celebrate the final day of the program, and came up with the idea of this flash mob almost a year ago.

And on Friday evening, about 70 of us gathered together and suddenly dropped to the ground in the plank position!

Rock Choir

We were joined by a local rock choir, who gave us the most amazing rendition of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, followed by Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, whilst we planked.

I say ‘we’, but actually it was everybody else as I walked around ‘checking technique’… well, somebody’s got to do it haven’t they!

Corporate challenge

The High Sheriff’s Corporate Challenge has a number of elements in it, the first of which was the Plankathon.

Richard is passionate about promoting wellbeing in the workplace, and I’m excited to be involved in some of his initiatives during his year in office.


If you missed the Plankathon program this time round, you can still sign up to take part and start any time you’re ready.

Head over to and register!